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25 January 2018

GF4C18 – Prep for the Green Box (post 3)

Get Fit for (CHI) 2018

– the Green Box, Exp 1

By m.c. schraefel – chi Health Chair – @mcphoo

Hello. Welcome to prepping for Week 1, Experiment one of the GetFit for CHI 2018 Mission: The Green Box.

broccoli and green veg

In the past two posts we’ve been talking about developing resilience to support brilliance – and using the next 15 weeks, in three phases, to explore test and build the Knowledge Skills and Practice to Thrive at CHI 2018.

Experiments: Last post was all about the road map of these next 15 weeks, and how in this first phase of that journey, we’re using small experiments. Each week we’ll run a different experiment to test an attribute of the 5 fundamentals, the MEECS – of Move, Eat, Engage, Cogitate, Sleep.

Before each experiment week kicks off, we’ll look at what’s coming up so you can prepare for success. And that’s exactly what we’re doing today:

HOW PREPARE for the Green box – is this post – AND for those who really want a challenge the Green + Red box follows.

Experiment one: the Green Box

This week the experiment will be to see what happens when delivberately increasing greens in your diet.

The protocol is simple: start with green.

Every time you eat – before you eat anything else – have something green first.

Example 1, if you’re sitting down to lunch to have a sandwich, plan ahead to make sure you have something green you can have before you tuck into your sandwhich. That green could be anything from a leafy green salad to enough raw (or cooked) broccoli that would fit into your cupped hands.

Example 2, If you’re planning on having a cookie for a break in the afternoon, find something green – like 5-10 spinach leaves or a few broccoli stems – and have them first – then have your cookie (if you still want your cookie).

That’s it.

The Data
Data collection – well here your ingenuity takes off: you want to track the following two points as easily and effortlessly as possible:

  • did you just eat | yes or no
  • did you have something green before you ate | yes or no

That’s it. You may want to try to remember to record each easting once a day. Or, just for the week, carry around a wee note pad with you – or use your technology of choice – and remember – after each time you eat ANYTHING – to keep a log so that you can see how high or low your complinace has been over the week.

What counts as eating? if you’re ingesting anything that gets digested then you’re eating. Black coffee, water, not eating; tea with milk – you’re consuming all sorts of materials – that counts. And in the experimental protocol that means: find a green first.

BONUS geek out: The Pre-Test If you’d like to evaluate the efficacy of the effect of one week of concentrated greens on your resilience, beyond the “how do you feel” self-report, you can try out a range of cognitive executive functioning tests that are available on line.

There are two that are really intereting, and have high test/retest validity: stroop, finger tapping, and pattern repeats (or corsi block tapping). These all assess various components of cognitive load, mental agility etc. Are they going to be highly correlated to such small dietary changes? Let’s see.

PRE TEST TIMING: MONDAY MORNING Pre/Post check – Before you eat Monday, find one of these tests and run it – preferably monday morning. Run the same test the following Monday – see how you do.

We can talk about why these kinds of tests anon.

Prep for the Week.

The biggest component of these experiments – and i guess why i think of them as experiments in boxes – is that you’re kinda buildig a kit for the week.

In this week’s kit, you need to think today about what you will need to have on hand during the week to get green into you with every food you take. You know the world you work in: whether you pack a lunch or buy it, and if you buy it what’s available on site; if you’ll need to go to a grocery store and buy some precut broccoli, because if you have to cut it up yourself right now it just won’t happen.

The key right now is just to make this experiment – having greens EVERY time you eat and BEFORE you eat anything else – doable. All the food prep skills to save time and money and improve health we can talk about – this week: take any shortcuts you wish. The experiment is a big enough new challenge.

Mental Prep for the Coming Week’s Green Box

Walk through each day of your coming week – and remember this is for ONE wee only so energy just for the week


  • when do yu usually eat – what do youusually eat? where do you get your food?
  • What greens could you have ahead of each of those circumstances?
  • Are greens available?
  • If they are not available on site – what are your options to soure some?
  • If you don’t know what you can do, ask a question in the comments
    and see the suggestions pour in.
  • When do you imagine following this protocol will be the easiest for you? What makes it easy
  • When do you think it might be the most challenging? What do you see as options to mitigate that challenge fo ONE week? If you’re stuck – ask here.

GET READY The deal here is: use these next few days to get yourself organised for the Green Week to come. And then, just ADD those greens.

That’s it: one week – some greens with all eating; greens first. For example, if you have a craving – if you want that cookie or whatever at night – that’s cool – just remember Greens First.

What are some Greens:

look for anything that’s dark and leafy or crunchy. So cruciferous veg like broccoli – fab. Spinach – awesome. Kale’s a biggie. Various types of dark salad greens mixes. Spring greens, brussel sprouts are awesome.

And remember, make this as easy on yourself for this one week as you can:
bagged pre-washed spinach; pre cut up broccoli – salads instead of sandwhiches at work – ask to add the dressing or oil yourself. If you’re going out for lunch or dinner and you don’t see something green on the menu, ask the waiter – they’ll find something for you. If you have a chef at home (heh, i’ve watched billions), ask them to make sure you have a box o’ green goodness to go.

PREP suggestions: The best thing about the cruciferous or the leafy greens is that they can be done raw or steamed or boiled or baked. And all these options are FAST. Spinach can be “cooked” by pouring boiling hot water over it and draining off the water. Broccoli is great steamed – in a pot or in the nuker. You got options.

OPTION: PICK JUST ONE: If variety is overwhelming pick ONE green (like spinach or broccoli) and make it your go-to green all week long.

Next week we’ll get into why this leap of faith into green.

If you have questions, please leave a comment,

if you’re participating, please let me know on twitter – @mcphoo –

Thanks in advance for tuning in and letting me know.


photos by m.c.


If you feel like the green challenge is too simple, and you’d like to move towards getting RIPPED as well as FIT for CHI, and maybe destress a little faster, help get to sleep a little easier, and you have the DISCIPLINE to add a challenge without falling over. Ok.

Take everything from above and ADD A RED along with the GREEN – the order is HAVE RED first, then the green – then anything else you’d like EVERY time you eat – just like with the green.

What’s a red:

For meat eaters a red is anything that had eyes, would have had eyes if left long enough, or at least breathed.

For plant-based eaters – the “red” includes stuff that grows in the dark or stuff that needs to be soaked to be human edible.

So mushrooms are great; lentils and legumes, also very good. Blend these components in with dark rich veg, you’ll be rocking.

Again, make this part of your plan as easy on yourself as possible: for example, there are now some very awesome pre-cooked lentils in vacume packs that you can just throw onto dark green salad leaves, add in some home made rich ferment red wine vinegar and sauerkraut – mm mm mm.


Looking forward to kicking off the green box with you next week.

Have a great weekend.




Smaller print: Why Trust Me?

i’m m.c. – your CHI Health Chair – besides being a prof in the uk in Computer Science and Human Performance, i’m also a certified nutritionist, strength and conditioning coach and movement coach (and i’m insured for just this kind of coaching).

I work with a range of folks from those wanting to get a little leaner to athletes recovering from injury. I also have worked with businesses that want to improve their creative edge – as effortlessly as possible.

Find me on

If you’re interested in learning about this area of physical / mental connection – learning a bit more about kinesiology to the microbiome to inform design – i’m doing a CHI course, (From Resilience to Brilliance) come on and let’s dig into it.


if you’d like to explore research around body-centered computing – what the implications for design are from learning about how we work under (and on and around) the skin, please join us for our CHI workshop The Body as a Starting Point – no position papers required: just your interest – and a short form – and a deadline a month from now – so start of FEB.






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